I had cause to gives thanks to the god of video on the weekend when I came across a DVD of the famous 1976 production of ‘Macbeth’ produced by Trevor Nunn, starring Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.
I have always wanted to see this production ever since I glimpsed a short clip on a documentary, and those few harrowing seconds were enough.
Lady Macbeth is in torment. She enters hollow-eyed and gaunt with lack of sleep and suffering. She stares sightless into a lit candle.
What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power
to account?--Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him?
Here's the smell of the blood still:
all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten
this little hand.
She screams in grief, a sound which starts in the back of her throat and rises to a wail of agony as she moves in an arc, clutching her whole body in a rictus of constricted pain. It is a study of sustained breath control, with the human voice nothing but an open channel of emotion.
The film is lean; nothing but the actors, and the voice. Shakespeare after Beckett.